Marina Bopha’s Ambitious New Project

It’s a determined project born out of the desire to bring art awareness to local people and students in the remote areas of Cambodia. 

NomadiX Tour 2020 is designed to closely engage local communities in the world of art through interactive workshops given by women artists and to inspire and guide young students yearning to be artists.

Marina Bopha is no stranger to the arts in Cambodia. She has spent years advocating for the arts in countless roles: gallery owner, consultant, curator, promoter, and now Creative Director for Anicca Foundation.

An enigma to many, Ms. Bopha is a dashing figure who seems to know everyone and to be everywhere – always at once. Speaking French, Khmer, German, Japanese, English, and Thai, she manages to orchestrate one project after another throughout Southeast Asia and Europe.  As a consummate promoter of the arts, she somehow finds funding to get the projects off the ground. When she asked me to assist her in covering NomadiX Tour it was impossible to ignore her whirlwind enthusiasm.

The NomadiX Tour (think Nomads) will begin in Kampot province and to other venues throughout the year. The mission is simple: to declare Cambodia as a world center for the arts, entertainment, and culture.

The vehicles for this endeavor are practiced woman artists representing diverse mediums and backgrounds. This time, the audience and workshop participants will not come from the large city centers, but from smaller communities in dire need of more inclusion and exposure to the power of the arts in the Land of Wonder. More importantly, the women will run the show.

The first tour is February 28th and February 29th, 2020 and will be held at the pagoda in Kampot – a symbolic gesture respecting the pagoda as a safe haven and respected place where everyone can feel comfortable and included.

The second city on the 2020 NomadiX Tour is Siem Reap, host to the celebration of Women’s International Day on March 8, 2020. Laura Mam with her “Conscious Concert” will set up at the Heritage Walk, undoubtedly attracting a large group of enthusiasts.

The NomadiX Tour will join the WID celebration by hosting panels with women artists, filmmakers, and authors with the ever-popular DJ Nana as the moderator. NomadiX will hold a workshop and art exhibition.

Baramey Production will be following NomadiX Tour in Kampot, Battambang, and Siemreap and the events will be broadcast on social media and television. 

Meet The Women Highlighting the NomadiX Tour 

Sao Sreymao was born 1986, Site 2 refugee camp, Thai border. She graduated from Phare Ponleu Selpak’s School of Visual and Applied Arts, Battambang province in 2006. She was part of Sa Sa Art Projects’-Contemporary Art Class in 2016. Her multidisciplinary practice includes painting, photography, digital drawing, sculpture and performance.

Her works explore personal expression and memories, as well as the change of physical and psychological landscapes of Cambodian urban and rural communities. She has also collaborated with various writers in visual storytelling and published a number of graphic novels.

Sreymao was an artist fellow at Sylt Foundation with a residency in Sylt Germany in 2017. She is also a recipient of Dam Dos Grant 2018 of Cambodian Living Arts. Her most recent group exhibitions and performances include “Day Dream,” Khmer Sense (2018); “Body of Sorrow,” Sa Sa Art Projects (2018); “Facing the Climate Change,”  Ministry of Environment of Cambodia (2018) and Embassy of Sweden (2017); and “Kraanh Norneal” Sa Sa Art Projects (2017).

Sreymao is a skilled and experienced artist working in the NGO sector and can cater her work to the specific needs of the project.

The artist will introduce her artwork to many local students and citizens, inviting the participants to explore how and why they should consider art, the role of art, and the key components and steps towards becoming an artist in Cambodia.

 

Neak Sophal (b. 1989, Cambodia), a graduate of the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, has a growing reputation for her distinct aesthetic and ongoing thematic exploration of Cambodian society. Through composed portraiture staged collaboratively with her subjects, Sophal’s artwork often challenges social structures, illuminating the hidden memories and fear that animate people’s lives and identities.

Active locally and internationally, Sophal has participated in workshops and group and solo exhibitions in France, Sweden, the United States, Japan, and Australia, as well as at Angkor Photo Festival (Cambodia), Spot Art (Singapore), Hong Kong International Photo Festival, Bangkok Photo Festival, Asian Eye Culture (Thailand), Voice of Tacitness Exhibition (China), Our City Festival (Cambodia), SurVivArt (Germany), and Photo Phnom Penh Festival (Cambodia).

Sophal will discuss what it means to be a female photographer and what is the photographic art form. Working with ten local women she will show them how to use professional cameras and explore how they can tell their stories. On the second day in Kampot, she will have a special surprise for the women participants.

 

Neak Sophal art from her series Leaf

Khun Gechsoun (aka Kek Soon) is a printmaker, painter based in Kampot, Cambodia. Soon was born in Kampot Province in 1986. After almost a decade in Malaysia working as a domestic maid, Soon returned to rebuild her life in Kampot by first becoming a waitress and then manager of a popular local café where she met her partner, musician/artist Julien Poulson.

Soon assisted Julien in setting up KAMA (Kampot Arts & Music Association) and has since collaborated on producing the popular Kampot Readers & Writers Festival now in its fifth year. During this period Soon began producing her own artwork and has exhibited in Cambodia and Switzerland.

Largely a self-taught artist Soon has learned from, hosted and worked collaboratively with a number of well-known international artists including Australian painter Helen Hopcroft, Borneo printmaker Rico Leong (both who supplied Soon with her first set of printmaking tools), renowned Australian book illustrator Sally Heinrich and a number of street and pop artists including Guatemalan Erick Gonzalez, and her partner Julien Poulson. Soon has recently opened purpose-built Fish Island Community Arts Centre with a vision for bringing accessible arts facilities and opportunities to provincial Cambodia.

Soon will guide around 20 students in Kampot in the history and basics of woodcut making. Each student will have their own work to take home.

 

TAN Vatey studied graphic design and works with a poetic and playful spirit through drawings, paintings, and mixed-media installations. Earning with graphic design, most of her artworks are created during artist residencies. Painting from a young age, she discovered contemporary arts via Sa Sa Art Projects. 

At the Sa Sa Bassac residency, she researched the use of pesticides and other methods manipulating the speed and size of vegetable cultivation out of which premature cultures grew.

During Mutual Unknown, an experimental group exhibition at Galeri Nasional Indonesia, her work [masshgrooming] reflected on health issues, mass consumption & fast food. [newfoundland wanderings] was created during an artist residency in Belgium looking into practices of gardening, cultivating and growing.

For Europalia Indonesia in Brussels [re-enacting memories] with Tan Vatey was a performative exhibition where artist and visitors interacted through the process of art creation and exhibition-making, co-creating the space in togetherness. [power ranges] presented at Sangker Gallery, Battambang, continued in [nature’s forces] created at Vermont Studio Center, where she also developed her first ceramic works [collaging creatures]. [watch & wa/onder] are walk shops exploring normalization with collaborator Sinta Wibowo working cross-disciplinary with the arts.

TAN Vatey Khmer artist

When NomadiX 2020 reaches Siem Reap to help celebrate Women’s International Day on March 8, 2020. You will be able to watch Laura Mam with her “Conscious Concert”  at the Heritage Walk. Here is her Ted talk to help you understand what she is doing for music in Cambodia.

Outspoken DJ Nana, whose real name is Sovathana Neang, will also be at the Siem Reap gathering, monitoring the panel discussions. She has an amazing following on her radio show and Facebook page that offers advice on many taboo subjects affecting young Khmers. Watch her in this video.

There is more in the works as NomadiX 2020 organizes its schedule to bring women artists into intimate workshops and experiences with Khmer citizens across the land.  Keep your eyes on their development and support their mission.

Contact: Marina Bopha marinapok81@gmail.com / +855 17 620 016

Tola Say: Tolasay.GM@gmail.com / +855 77 55 85 45